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Family of Marcus-David Peters Sends List Of Demands To Richmond Officials

Protesters sit on top of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue
Protesters sit on top of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue on Wednesday. (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

The family of Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old who was shot and killed by Richmond Police in 2018, is demanding accountability and reform in the wake of recent protests. 

The Peters family sent a list of demands to local and state officials in Richmond earlier this week. They are demanding that Richmond Police drop all charges against people arrested in connection with the George Floyd protests that began on May 29. They’re also calling for three specific reforms: an independent civilian review board for police misconduct, regular community meetings on policing and what they’re calling the ‘Marcus Alert System.’ 

Princess Blanding, an activist and Peters’ sister, said she believes the Marcus Alert System could have brought about a different outcome when her brother encountered police. 

“It will call on mental health experts to be the first responders to a suspected or a confirmed mental health crisis, instead of our officers who are equipped to take out the problem, to end it with deadly force,” she said.

You can find the full letter sent from the Peters family to officials here.

Blanding said Peters was experiencing a mental health episode when he encountered police on the side of Interstate 95/64. Despite being naked and unarmed, Peters was shot twice by Richmond Police officer Michael Nyantakyi. An investigation by Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring concluded it was a “justifiable homicide” because the officer regarded Peters as a direct threat to his life. 

In 2019, Henrico County Police shot and killed 57-year-old Gay Plack during a welfare check. Plack, a former preschool teacher and nurse, was experiencing a mental health episode and approached authorities with an axe when she was killed.

Under the demand put forward by the Peters family, police would only respond to a suspected or confirmed mental health crisis as “back-up” to a trained mental health professional. 

The Peters family is also calling for the removal of the five Confederate monuments on Monument Avenue in Richmond. 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he would introduce local legislation to do just that after marching alongside protesters on Tuesday. Stoney also reiterated his support for creating the Marcus Alert System and the civilian review board. Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue on Thursday.